At Brown, so many of us are doing a lot, all the time, everywhere. We all have limitless combinations of jobs, classes, clubs, and other commitments. We bounce from this event to that interview to that section to the library, and repeat it all the next day.
Personally, my brain shuts off at 9 p.m. and renders me useless any time after. So how do I do all of my work without a need for the classic college nighttime grind? I think it all comes down to strategies and platforms I found on social media (I stand by the fact that it’s useful for more than dissociative doom scrolls). Here are five of my favorite strategies that I use to sort, organize, and analyze my workload.
1. Google Keep
Google Keep is possibly one of the most underrated websites. It’s free, simple, and easy: digital sticky notes that you can customize. I have one box per class, a box for housekeeping, a box for things to buy, and a box for work/extracurriculars. I can put list-style notes in each box and check them off once done. The app lives on the homepage of my phone and the website is bookmarked front and center on my web browser. It’s the one thing I keep open on my computer all the time, an easy way to reference what I need to do and what I’ve already done.
2. Time and page estimates
Next to every to-do list item, I write down either a time estimate or a page count for the task. Say I have 20 minutes between classes: I can look at my time estimates, find a task that is roughly 20 minutes of work, and get it done. When my brain is too foggy to read a 40 page article full of words I’ve never heard, I can look for the easier tasks on my list. Visualizing the amount of work each assignment demands helps me more effectively assign time in my day to do it.
3. Physically removing distractions
It is with a bit of embarrassment that I admit that I am addicted to my cell phone. My fingers find their way to TikTok before I even realize I’ve unlocked my phone. By putting my phone physically out of reach, I essentially eliminate that urge to check it. I do this with computer tabs as well. For instance, if I leave American Eagle’s website open, I am tempted to resume shopping. Out of site, out of mind.
This is another free app that helps me with productivity. In the event that you can’t do the above and put your phone out of arm’s reach, I’ve found it helpful to open this app. For a given amount of time, the app “bakes” a dessert that will burn if you leave the app. No checking texts, scrolling through Instagram, or watching TikTok.
5. Admin day/hour
This semester, I’m lucky enough to have Mondays off. I spend the day setting myself up for the week: making a list of everything that is due, everything I need to read, groceries I need to buy, etc. In the absence of a free day to do this, I recommend setting aside an hour or two at the beginning of the week for the mundane tasks of setting up a to-do list, answering emails, putting things in your room away, etc.Whatever little tasks need a place on your schedule fit perfectly into an admin hour.
It goes without saying that we are all busy, and it is easy to get overwhelmed as things pile up and breaks become a rarity. I know for me, it feels like I complete one thing just to immediately have another to do. I suppose that it’s better to have a lot to do than nothing at all, though, and using these tips lighten the weight.